In Response

Joint response to ICSM Gazette Clinical Years Redeployment article from Professor Julian Redhead, medical director at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and Professor Amir Sam, Head of Imperial College School of Medicine (April 2021):

“We value the contribution of our medical students and continue to be grateful for their flexibility and understanding during a time of unprecedented challenge for the NHS. In January, due to the increase in Covid-19 cases, many clinical placements were unable to go ahead as planned because non-time critical NHS services had been paused as part of the response to the pandemic. Some students were therefore offered placements in support of the Covid-19 response, which included a variety of shift patterns that reflect the reality of working in the NHS. The roles these students undertook, as part of multidisciplinary teams, made a big difference to patient care and experience and provided a valuable opportunity to gain insight into the reality of an unprecedented global health crisis.

“This has been a challenging and worrying time for many students and we know medical students will be concerned about the impact of the last year on their education. We are doing all we can to provide opportunities for students to catch up with missed clinical experience, and to continue safely with opportunities for on-site, in-person teaching and activity across all areas of the MBBS programme.”

“We are grateful to all the students who raised concerns and provided feedback about their experiences during the pandemic, and for the constructive discussions that have followed. The Trust and the School continue to work closely together to ensure the safe delivery of education for our medical students, and that they remain well supported in these challenging circumstances.”

Response to ICSM Gazette Clinical Years Redeployment article from Muntaha Naeem, ICSMSU President 2021/21:

When the decision was made to cancel clinical placements, some of our Clinical Students were made to cover 36 hour-aweek shifts on intensive care with no pay in place of their normal clinical placements. Some of these shifts were also long days preventing some students from covering caring responsibilities, childcare and part-time jobs for funding their food, rent and other core student living-costs in London.

When repeatedly raising this with the Faculty, these students were told the work they were doing was an equal learning opportunity to their normal clinical placements.

Whilst it is very valuable, humbling and vital work, many felt it did not substitute ‘equal’ learning opportunities as it does not link to their learning outcomes and impending assessments that they are required to pass to demonstrate the skills to join the workforce as an F1.

Many felt Faculty either needed to put in place simple academic protections for these students (such as moving back their impending exams or providing remedial core placements later in the year), or to end the forced redeployments and revert back to the offered volunteering scheme for those who are able, so that the medical school could also be in line with the published policy and guidance from NHS England, the GMC, the volunteering policy of the Medical Schools Council, and the BMA.

Initial approaches to the Faculty were cited by students as ‘met with a brick wall on all ends’. However we were very grateful the issue was eventually resolved and an amicable resolution was reached with them back in January.